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Lopetegui lauds Spain's work ethic

Published: Monday 16 July 2012, 0.50CET
Julen Lopetegui believes that hard work and a strong mentality were the key to Spain's final win with Kostas Tsanas proud of his Greece side despite falling short at the last.
Lopetegui lauds Spain's work ethic
Julen Lopetegui and his assistant Santiago Denia celebrate Spain's triumph ©Sportsfile
Published: Monday 16 July 2012, 0.50CET

Lopetegui lauds Spain's work ethic

Julen Lopetegui believes that hard work and a strong mentality were the key to Spain's final win with Kostas Tsanas proud of his Greece side despite falling short at the last.

Julen Lopetegui, Spain coach
That was a real final. We were facing a team that wasn't just great but who collectively had huge heart. Greece competed brilliantly, just as we expected they would. It was a very entertaining game for the spectators. There were many differences between this and the first game we played in the group [a 2-1 win for Spain]. It was a final so you know there are no second chances. We were playing on a great surface tonight and one that favoured the quick movement of the ball. We had more chances to score than they did and fortunately we took one of those, which gave us the win.

That was a real final. We were facing a team that wasn't just great but who collectively had huge heart. Greece competed brilliantly
Julen Lopetegui
I told my players I am proud of them. Apart from us, the coaching staff and the federation, they made many people proud in Greece
Kostas Tsanas

I prefer to concentrate on my team as a whole rather than pick out individuals for praise. They put in so much hard work. The players' mentality was spot on and they very much deserved their win. I am proud that my daughter was here to see this. The great organisation of the tournament and the generosity of the people here [in Estonia] are some of the many things I will take with me.

Kostas Tsanas, Greece coach
When you play in a final and you lose, the first thing one feels is sadness, because we came so close to the trophy. We believed that we could go all the way. Sadly we couldn't get to the top. We came up against very tough rivals. Tactically we knew Spain's strong points and managed to deal with their danger as best as we could. But we could not move around the ball as we should against such a team, our pressure on the ball didn't pay off as we hoped it would and unfortunately we paid for that by conceding a goal in the closing stages. Spain have a great side, but we proved worthy opponents of them.

From now on, our aim is to see that as many players as possible from this side make it to the Under-21 or the senior Greece squad. Also, we are determined to put on great performances as well in the [FIFA] U-20 World Cup next year in Turkey.

Being a novice in such a tournament, I will never forget the chain of emotions following our matches. From the frustration of our defeat by Spain in the first match, to the great intensity of the following encounters and the joy for the victories achieved. We have a team of very good players with strong abilities, and I will never forget how the players handled adversities and were triumphant and also the sad feeling after the final. Even that is a source of strength, because we shouldn't just keep the happy moments in our memory.

After the match, I told my players I am proud of them. Apart from us, the coaching staff and the federation, they made many people proud in Greece. I can't find the words to describe what I feel about these guys for the way they reacted. I would like them, however, to understand that it's not bad to reach a final and to lose, especially to players with the talent they possess. 

Last updated: 16/07/12 1.16CET

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